Comment On Patent Reform Legislation

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) spoke at an Executive Business meeting Thursday morning about patent reform.  Watch the webcast here:  http://judiciary.senate.gov/resources/webcasts/index.cfm?p=all.

I want to thank Senator Sessions for working with me on what has been a top priority of this Committee – patent reform legislation.  Today we can report that we have reached a tentative agreement in principle that preserves the core of the compromise struck in Committee last year with the help of Senators Feinstein, Specter, Cornyn, Klobuchar and others.  We will, of course, continue discussing the details with all Members of this Committee going forward, as well as with our counterparts in the House as we finalize a consensus bill.

I want to particularly thank Senator Hatch, who has been a longtime partner of mine on intellectual property issues.  We have consulted with the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), at the suggestion of Senator Kyl, and with his help and that of Director Kappos, we have the principles of an agreement that will move this legislation closer to passage.   

When Senator Hatch and I started this process several Congresses ago, along with Mr. Conyers, Mr. Berman, Mr. Smith and others in the House, we wanted to improve patent quality and the operations at the PTO, and address runaway damage awards that were harming innovation.  We are close to a compromise that will address these issues.  No one will think this a perfect bill, but we are close to a comprehensive patent reform bill that benefits all corners of the patent community. 

This bill will be an example of what we can do when we work together – a true bipartisan product.   Intellectual property is the engine of our economy.  Reforms to our patent system will protect inventors and promote innovation.  They will stimulate the economy and create jobs without spending American tax dollars. 

I expect that we will be able to release details as they are finalized in the coming days, after consultation with the House.  I look forward to working closely with all members of the Committee who have probably spent more time on patent law than we would like.  I appreciate the seriousness with which they have approached this issue. 

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